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Old Feb 27, 2010, 01:05 AM
I butcher foam
rballz's Avatar
Springfield, MO
Joined Jun 2008
1,559 Posts
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Lipo fire took my house and everything I own

Lesson to be learned.



I've been using and charging lipos since 2006

I was charging a 3s 2200 mah pack with a Turnigy Accucel 8 - no balance board connector, mine was on loan.

I checked the charge, 1400 mah in, all was well..no puffing

I WAS on 3s setting, I MAY have been charging at 2c by accident as I charged a 2c pack beforehand. This pack is NOT rated at 2c (previous pack can do 5c)

10-15 minutes later smoke alarms started going out. My house has 5 detectors throughout.

Searching for the source I went straight towards the garage. Smoke was coming out of the door to the garage and turning the drywall black.

Opened the door, huge fire where I was charging in the corner.

A quick 5 second jog to get the fire extinguisher and I'm back to the garage. By this time nearly the entire garage was up and the ceiling was starting to come down.

WE called 911 and got our daughter (we being me and my wife) and two dogs out. We didnt have time to get our new pet ferret and pet ball python. They were burned alive.

Our cars, we moved them to the street

Now we only have the clothes on our back. I am insured pretty well.

4 years of dealing with lipos with no accidents, and then this, it can happen to you!!!

My helifreak.com friends and 3DHS friends in the 3D forum have setup paypal donation links for us, which has been a godsend!!!

Please, be careful....
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 01:34 AM
Registered User
St Louis
Joined Sep 2009
121 Posts
At least you all got out.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 02:09 AM
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Brisbane Australia
Joined Aug 2009
126 Posts
Sorry for your loss hope all go's well for you
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 03:25 AM
Registered User
Letchworth, Great Britain (UK)
Joined Jul 2004
12,013 Posts
Glad to hear you're all safe.

A couple of lessons to be learned here, apart from never leaving LiPos charging unattended:

1. Call 911 first, and then go for the extinguisher. They won't mind if you've got the fire out by the time they arrive -- in fact you'll want them to check if there's any remaining hotspots or embers after the fire's out.
2. Keep an extinguisher next to the charging station so you don't have to go for it.

And here's a thought ... what about installing one of those remote baby alarm things at the charger so that if you go back into the house (let's be honest, we all do some time) while the battery is charging, you'll be able to hear the charger beeping its error code, or even hear the pop as the LiPo goes up?
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 03:33 AM
I butcher foam
rballz's Avatar
Springfield, MO
Joined Jun 2008
1,559 Posts
I was on with 911 while I went for the extinguisher - it wasn't until I was outside that I had a human taking my address, etc.

I can't be certain my charger was throwing error beeps prior to the pack hissing flames..I hope it was.

Keeping the charger and extinguisher together makes sense, but we're talking about 5-10 seconds different.

I think it's best to charge your packs in a setting that IF the pack catches fire - it can't catch anything ELSE on fire.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 05:59 AM
Axes & Blades-Cutlery & Helis
West Monroe NY
Joined Feb 2009
3,378 Posts
I charge on a metal cookie tray, my wife, also a RC pilot disconnected a lipo one morning while I was at work and shorted the leads to the cookie tray. I get a frantic call at work telling me the battery is sparking and smoking what should she do, I said carry the metal try outside.

When I got home a few hours later, the house still smelled acrid, the battery was nothing but burned paper.

I showed my wife how to properily disconnect the battery, she disconnected the charging harness and the bannana plugs shorted against the metal tray.

This year, I have bigger batteries and up to 7 chargers. I think I will get a bigger cookie tray and some lipo chargning bags.

Sorry for your loss rballs, I hope things work out.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 07:01 AM
Registered User
Letchworth, Great Britain (UK)
Joined Jul 2004
12,013 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by rballz View Post
... I think it's best to charge your packs in a setting that IF the pack catches fire - it can't catch anything ELSE on fire.
True enough
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 07:48 AM
Way to many airplanes!
Canada, QC
Joined Oct 2009
5,489 Posts
I use a Teflon coated cookie tray myself. Somehow, I think the Teflon is non-conductive (didn't test it, but basically, if nothing stick to it, in my head, it cannot be conductive : ) and an extra large lipo bag. Now, reading this, I'm even thinking about buying one of those fireproof safe for storing those %$?/% little bombs (or a second lipo bag... currently, I sometime charge one battery with other still stored in the bag!)

Well, hope the insurance will cover everything. Take care... Now going to Helifreak to see if I can find this link...
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 08:08 AM View Post
rangamatchstic
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 09:06 AM
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Joined Dec 2007
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Man I am so sorry to see this. Just a day or so ago you were so excited posting your progress with learning nose in hovering and working on your 500 heli. I'm so glad no one was hurt in any way.

This is a wakeup call to all of us that these things can and do happen.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 09:50 AM
Walkera CB100 Owner
Ox1de's Avatar
Pittsburgh, Pa
Joined Jan 2010
114 Posts
sorry to see this.. my garage recently burnt down and almost took the house with it (not due to lipos). Luckily the garage is pretty far away from mine though.

Also sorry to hear about the ferret and the python it's a good thing your family is safe though, hopefully you have insurance and they'll cover your losses.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Joined Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewoodcox View Post
I charge on a metal cookie tray, my wife, also a RC pilot disconnected a lipo one morning while I was at work and shorted the leads to the cookie tray. I get a frantic call at work telling me the battery is sparking and smoking what should she do, I said carry the metal try outside.

When I got home a few hours later, the house still smelled acrid, the battery was nothing but burned paper.

I showed my wife how to properily disconnect the battery, she disconnected the charging harness and the bannana plugs shorted against the metal tray.

This year, I have bigger batteries and up to 7 chargers. I think I will get a bigger cookie tray and some lipo chargning bags.

Sorry for your loss rballs, I hope things work out.
I learned this the hard way when I first started dealing with batteries and soldering up my own packs a few years back. ALWAYS solder the female plug on the batt side so there is nothing to make contact and short anything out. Its the simple things like this at first that I missed and had a couple of packs in my bag make contact with each other. I heard and saw the sparks thank God before I zipped it up, and who knows what tragedy could have occurred if I had not.
Ive seen people use the male plug on lipos before and put rubber caps found at Hope Depot over them, but it just seems logical to use the female end and not have to worry about it.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 01:02 PM
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Folsom, CA
Joined Feb 2010
6 Posts
First, I'm very sorry to hear of your loss... the two pets especially. Insurance will certainly help out, but what a nightmare to contend with.

Wow. This is very eye-opening. I've heard and read of several cases where malfunctions and such with LiPo batteries and their charging equipment have caused small amounts of damage... scorching to a surface, smaller contained fires, but this is just very scary.

What can we do to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Would it good enough to build a fire-proof area for charging and storing cells? How much energy or heat would it have to withstand and contain? Would a small area surrounded by cement-board or fire-rock be sufficient?

I'm recently back into RC after a somewhat long hiatus. When I'd left, NiCads were pretty standard and NiMH where just coming onto the scene. Those were dangerous enough, but generally the worst that would happen would wires would briefly burn, heat-shrink would melt, and you'd have some ruined cells.

Is there a LiPo FAQ somewhere?

Dave
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlregis View Post
First, I'm very sorry to hear of your loss... the two pets especially. Insurance will certainly help out, but what a nightmare to contend with.

Wow. This is very eye-opening. I've heard and read of several cases where malfunctions and such with LiPo batteries and their charging equipment have caused small amounts of damage... scorching to a surface, smaller contained fires, but this is just very scary.

What can we do to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Would it good enough to build a fire-proof area for charging and storing cells? How much energy or heat would it have to withstand and contain? Would a small area surrounded by cement-board or fire-rock be sufficient?

I'm recently back into RC after a somewhat long hiatus. When I'd left, NiCads were pretty standard and NiMH where just coming onto the scene. Those were dangerous enough, but generally the worst that would happen would wires would briefly burn, heat-shrink would melt, and you'd have some ruined cells.

Is there a LiPo FAQ somewhere?
Dave
The flame from a lipo "flare" is over 2,000F so consider that when setting up containment. The initial flare up can burn through just about anything, even metal unless thick enough to hold until the flare subsides. You will find more info in the batteries and chargers forum
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=719116
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 02:05 PM
Fly Runaway Fans
United States, TX, Fort Worth
Joined Jan 2009
9,387 Posts
Sorry to hear. Glad you're safe.

To those wondering "what is safe?" go watch a couple youtubes of lipo fires, see the extent of the fireball, and charge only with flammables at least twice that distance from the battery. Floor of an empty garage comes to mind, concrete patio.

I charge mine in the kitchen but only when I'm home and awake. Within 2 feet of the sink where I could whisk it underwater and keep the fire from propagating if it went off. Only one in 10,000 lipos does that (when operated correctly) but if that one is yours.......
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